Minimum Wage – cheer as Conservatives choke Chope
Conservative backbencher Christopher Chope had a private members bill on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) on the parliamentary agenda for today’s session. When it came to the crunch he decided to withdraw his bill, as the government would not support it.
I wanted to celebrate this non-event, as it is not often that I can say that Government has got something absolutely right, and I’m not quite sure when I will get such an opportunity again.
Mr Chope has continually tried to unpick the NMW as a truly national minimum standard, and his past proposals included the establishment of an opt-out from the NMW. The latest effort sought to establish an exemption for workers whose employers gave them training.
The insurmountable problem is simply that this idea has already been tried and discredited. If it were to be revived it would inevitably lead to misuse and exploitation.
When the NMW was introduced in 1999 it originally had a “Development Rate”, which allowed a discount for up to six months for employers providing accredited training. However, a TUC review found that it was more often abused than used properly, and the Government accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation to discontinue it in 2005.
The TUC’s own Inquiry found that the majority of employers who used the old training development rate failed to live up to their duties, in that they commonly provided no training at all, or only uncertified training. Re-introducing such a provision would do much more harm than good. All-in-all, simply a bad idea